Mt. Tom Summit House, Holyoke, Mass. (1)

The view of the Mt. Tom Summit House around 1900-1905. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same view in 2014:

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In the late 1800s and early 1900s, mountain-top hotels were all the rage. Among other things, they offered spectacular views, along with cooler weather during the hot, humid New England summers in the days before air conditioning. There were three such hotels in the Mt. Tom vicinity alone, including this one at the summit of the highest point along the range. However, along with being very popular, their isolated location also made them vulnerable to fire. The building in this photo was the second built on the summit; the first, which opened in 1897, burned in 1900. This one would eventually burn as well, in 1929. A third one was built, but closed in 1938, a victim of the Great Depression as well as changes in demand.

Today, the foundation of the hotel is there, but it is filled with the antennas and related equipment, and is fenced-in and off limits to the public.  Hikers to the summit can still walk along the boardwalk, or at least what’s left of it. The part seen in the second photo has collapsed, and other parts of the boardwalk are in various stages of decay, but today it is the only obvious reminder of that was once at the summit.

Draper Hotel, Northampton Mass

The Draper Hotel in Northampton, around 1907. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The building in 2014:

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Built in 1868 as the Fitch Hotel, it was known as the Draper Hotel by the time the 1907 photo was taken.  Today, only the westernmost third of the building remains; the rest of it was demolished at some point, probably in the 1940s or 1950s, based on the architecture of the nondescript one-story building that replaced it.

View from Summit House, Mt. Tom, Holyoke, Mass.

The view of Easthampton from the Summit house atop Mt. Tom, between 1905 and 1915.  Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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A similar view in 2010:

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The Summit House no longer exists, so I wasn’t able to perfectly re-create the early 20th century photo, but the 2010 photo shows the remains of the promenade that is in the foreground of the older photo.  President William McKinley once walked along it, but now all that remains is the concrete that once supported the wooden boardwalk and the rusty metal railings that tourists once admired the view from alongside.  The Summit House from the older photo was built in 1901, replacing the 1897 structure that had burned just three years later.  The 1901 building also burned, in 1929, and the third one was closed in 1938.  The site of the summit houses is now off-limits; it is the site of numerous radio and TV antennas for the Springfield area.

Massasoit House, Springfield

The Massasoit House in Springfield, around 1882. Photo from Springfield Illustrated by James D. Gill (1882)

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The same scene around 1908, with the stone railroad arch in the distance. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

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The same scene in 2017:

 

This scene on Main Street in Springfield was prime real estate when the first two photos were taken.  The hotel building in those photos, the Massasoit House, opened in 1843, right next to the railroad depot (the building partially hidden by a tree in the right-center of the 1882 photo), just four years after the railroad came to Springfield.  It was the perfect place for a hotel, because the railroad depot made this location the transportation hub of the city, and the Massasoit House had its share of notable guests over the years, including Charles Dickens, Daniel Webster, Franklin Pierce, Ulysses S. Grant, Andrew Johnson, and Jefferson Davis.  However, in 1926 the building was sold and turned into the Paramount Theatre.  Most of the structure was demolished, but there are a few surviving sections of the original 1843 building.

One thing lacking in the 1882 photo is the iconic stone arch, which wasn’t built until 1890.  It helped to alleviate congestion on Main Street by elevating the railroad, and it also coincided with the opening of a new Union Station just a short walk away on Lyman Street.  By the 1908 photo, the railroad arch is there, and the scene captures an interesting combination of transportation modes.  Along with the railroad in the distance, it shows trolleys alongside a roughly equal number of automobiles and horse-drawn carriages, during the period of transition from draft animals to internal combustion engines.  Today, as seen in the 2014 photo, buses have replaced the trolleys, and automobiles clearly won out over horses; not a single horse-drawn carriage is to be seen on Main Street anymore.

Hotel Worthy, Springfield

The Hotel Worthy, at the corner of Main and Worthington in Springfield, around 1908. Image courtesy of the Library of Congress, Detroit Publishing Company Collection.

Hotels

The building in 2013:

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Unlike many of the other views of downtown Springfield from the turn of the last century, almost nothing has changed in this scene.  Taken from the corner of Main and Worthington, with Worthington to the left and Main to the right, most of the buildings in this photo have survived.  The only exception is the building to the immediate right of the Hotel Worthy, which is now a public square.  The historic hotel itself is now an apartment building, and the buildings beyond it to the left down Worthington Street now house a variety of bars and restaurants.  One of these, Smith’s Billiards, has actually been open since before the 1908 photo was taken, and it is supposedly the oldest pool hall in the United States.